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Helping America's heroes

Veterans Airlift Command posing in front of aircraft

Couple ferries combat-wounded veterans

Retired Army Specialist 1st Class Luis Puertas pets Stephanie and Erwin Greenberg’s dalmatians after a flight in their Beechcraft King Air B200 aircraft. Like many of the veterans the Greenbergs fly, Puertas is a Paralympic athlete, having earned a spot on Team USA for the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships.

When Stephanie Cooper Greenberg talks about flying for Veterans Airlift Command (VAC), her energy and enthusiasm fill the room. Her eyes sparkle as she describes the inspiration that comes from meeting the people she calls “real American heroes.”

“It’s just so incredibly rewarding and gratifying to meet these young people. They’re beyond inspiring. I’m one of the luckiest people in the world,” Cooper Greenberg said.

She and her husband Erwin are among the more than 2,500 pilots who help transport post-9/11 combat-wounded veterans and their families. The pilots donate their time, aircraft and operating expenses. Cooper Greenberg learned about the organization through a friend six years ago. Ever since, she’s been an avid and passionate supporter.

The husband and wife team have flown more than 21 VAC missions, half of which have been in their BEECHCRAFT KING AIR B200 turboprop. Most of their passengers are amputees, often making it difficult or impossible for the veterans to fly on commercial airlines.

“We want to make travel and transportation a whole lot easier for our combat-wounded veterans. We can fly right into their home base. They don’t have to change planes or deal with the TSA,” said Cooper Greenberg, who was featured on NBC Nightly News in 2009.

With the TV camera crew looking on, the couple flew Capt. Nate Walden, a young U.S. Army captain and amputee, home to Greenville, South Carolina, to see his parents. The King Air B200 handled the mission beautifully, according to Cooper Greenberg.

“We love our airplane. We’re crazy about it. It’s super comfortable. It’s very accessible. It has low operating expenses.” Stephanie Cooper Greenberg, Beechcraft King Air B200 owner and volunteer pilot for Veterans Airlift Command

About Veterans Airlift Command

  • 2,500+

  • 11,000+

  • 5 million+ miles

“The King Air is comfortable, and it’s roomy. It has great airspeed. We can get to where we need to go very quickly. It’s a great all-purpose airplane. It’s been fantastic for our missions with Veterans Airlift,” she said.

Cooper Greenberg also appreciates the aircraft’s flexibility and affordability to fly fully loaded or with just a few passengers. With the King Air aircraft's trusty reliability, the couple can count on it when they need it.

“Since we’re in Baltimore, not far from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, we’re well positioned to help fulfill requests. We’re usually not on a fixed time schedule, so we can adjust our dates and times to accommodate them,” she said.

The couple often flies along the Eastern Seaboard, from Baltimore to their second home in Naples, Florida, stopping at other destinations along the way.

“The King Air has great range. We rarely have to refuel on our routes. It’s just a terrific, comfortable, high-performance airplane,” said Cooper Greenberg, a 1,500-hour pilot. Her husband has more than 8,000 hours in the air.

In addition to the King Air, the Greenbergs own a share in a CESSNA CITATION III jet, which they also occasionally use for VAC flights when the passengers have special accommodations.

“The beauty of Veterans Airlift Command is there are private aircraft flying every day with empty seats. They can give a ride to a wounded warrior and help them get home.” Stephanie Cooper Greenberg, Beechcraft King Air B200 owner and volunteer pilot for Veterans Airlift Command

Stephanie and Erwin are two of more than 2,300 pilots who donate their aircraft, fuel and skills to transport post-9/11 combat-wounded veterans and their families.

“Flying for Veterans Airlift has been an incredible experience for us. We’ve kept in touch with so many of the combat-wounded veterans. There’s a mama bear instinct in both my husband and me to make sure they’re okay, to follow them in their careers and offer any support we can. They are the most upstanding young people we’ve ever met. It’s an honor to be around these real American heroes. Helping them gives purpose and meaning to our flying,” said Cooper Greenberg.

To volunteer your time or request a flight, visit the organization’s website at